2016 Summer Research Program at Cornell University



July 12 - August 11, 2016

Number of Participants



Brief Intro

On July 12, 2016, 25 Zhiyuan Computer Science (CS) students arrived at Cornell University to attend the long awaited month-long exploratory research trip. This is the 3rd year that Zhiyuan college sends CS students to Cornell University to participate in research program. After two years’ success on project cooperation on personnel training mode and specific mechanism, the influence of Zhiyuan College in Cornell University have significantly improved. The program has been widely reported on the home page of Cornell University as well as Cornell Chronicle(http://news.cornell.edu/essentials/2016/07/elite-international-students-preview-cis-studies).

The high quality of the research internship program had also attracted talented students from IEEE Class of SJTU, Tsinghua University, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, and South American University. Apart from attending courses taught by well-known professors, Zhiyuan students were also able to communicate and conduct researches with senior professors from the Department of Computer Science, Cornell University. The trip to Cornell University not only enhances Zhiyuan CS students’ professional knowledge, but also enables them to have a deeper understanding towards the society, cultures and histories of the States.

Comments from the participants

I.Comments and Thoughts on Courses

Programming Language & Logic by David Gries and Michael Clarkson “Prof. David’s course programming Methodology and the Semantics of Programs is pretty interesting. Currently the part we are learning is Calculational logic, this part is similar to Mathematical Logic that I’ve learned before, but the teaching structure of this course is very clear. The number of total term classes is limited, but every theory is associated with examples, which makes lectures more understandable. Thus, this course is way better than Mathematical Logic. Proving correctness of a program by formal logical system is pretty interesting, now I am expecting to figure out how to apply this method automatically. In this way, we only need to keep correctness of the program that prove other programs’ correctness, then we could ensure other programs’ correctness. As to advice, I think this course could be deeper, there could be more complex examples or applications.

Professor David is one of the most amazing teachers I have ever met. As we all know, Programming Language is an advanced subject with numerous knowledge points to be recited and profound contents to be understood, which make it one of curriculum hard to both teaching and studying in the field of computer science. However, in Professor David’s class, even the hardest part of knowledges can be illustrated as a story in which I can easily accept and understand teacher’s ideas. Sometimes, we still might be confused about how to use our knowledge to solve problem. At that time, Professor David will ask many simple but tricky questions to inspire our ideas. And finally, those problems can be solved by the effort of ourself. I deeply appreciate to have this chance to communicate with such a wonderful professor.

Professor David Gries teaches the course Programming Methodology and the Semantics of Programs during this summer program. He has been teaching for over fifty years and no doubt, teaching has been real fun to him. Currently David’s lectures mainly focus on calculational logic, which is an area full of tremendous rules and sophisticated proofs that can make people puzzled easily. However, David delivers class in an absorbing way by introducing heuristic ideas of calculational logic proofs. He emphasizes that it’s the syntactic pattern that really matters instead of the semantics, which matches my vague feeling when learning mathematic logic and really inspires me a lot. With examples of turning interesting logic problems into propositions to solve in a simple and elegant way, and jokes of creating new terms to explain basic conceptions, David gives me a better understanding of logic formats and related applications. Looking forward to the following courses! The only pity is that the course is terribly compressed due to the limited time.”

–Provided by Siqiu Yao, Yuncong Hu, Yan ji

“Prof. Clarkson always explain the profound in simple examples in class, which will enable us to have a clear understanding of the course material. These examples are carefully selected and are able to summarize what we learned before. Prof. Clarkson begins a class with a song related to today’s topic, which is of great help to refresh us in this high intensity course. The problems in the Lab part include both the basic and changeling ones. Making full use of Lab time can have a good review of today’s class.”

“The courses given by Professor Michael Clarkson is very good. He taught us the basic grammar of a functional programming language called OCaml. Before class began, he would play his favorite music, which related to the topic of that class. Most of the music were from famous games such as Pokemon Go, which attracted us a lot. During the class, he explained the knowledge with patience, and showed us many examples. After the class, he assigned some practice for us, which helped us to understand the language much better. He walked around to help students who have problem with the practice.”

–Provided by Yiyi Zhang and Zhihao Bai

** Professional Seminar II by John Hopcroft “Prof. Hopcroft is a very nice professor. He always try his best to provide help for everyone. At the course of “How to Do Research”, he always propose modify suggestions of PPT and the presentation. Besides improving the ability of presentation, John still ask each student to express views to help presenter make better on research areas. I maintain that the course could let student record other five students speech content and their own harvest to steady students improvement and rewards.”

“Each presenter shows their speech ability learned at last two years, but each student seems careless of other students research area. But Prof. Hopcroft still holds all informations and impart a wealth of life experience. In the beginning, Join taught the first class to show the area of deep learning. John display the structure of neural networks and talk about his dream of education. College research on deep learning has the own way to do research. I trust dis dream will deeply attracted in our heart.”

–Provided by Jiajun Li

II. Comments and Thoughts on Activities

In order to enable the students to experience the variety of Cornell life, the students were provided with a series of extracurriculum activities: Niagara Tour, Community Concert, Bowling Night, Ice Cream Social, Pizza Party, Picnic etc.

1)John & David House Parties The two professors live in a peaceful and beautiful neighborhood. The two professors both love teaching and enjoy life in the meantime. The dinner we had together was great. We not only enjoyed the delicious food such as pizza and ice cream, but also tasted the spirits of two professors towards life and research. We were moved by the spirit that they still worked on teaching at such an age. We hope we can treasure the precious time and make amazing contributions!

–Provided by Yuning Mao

2)Bowling night “Bowling night was really funny, even for students who are not good at playing this game. They could play arcade game, eat pizza, or enjoy drink beside. I think what can be enhanced is that pizza is always provided as meals for party, which seems to be somewhat monotone, so is there any other kinds of food available?”

–Provided by Jian Weng

3)Ice Cream Party “Cornell dairy ice creams were quite delicious. Meanwhile, communication with professor and students from Cornell CS was also very interesting. However, it was quite inconvenient to get the scores by using the spoon provided, the scores always stuck on the spoon, which wastes much time of the queuing people, and the 3rd floor lounge is a little bit small for more than 40 people. It seemed to be too crowded. Is there any other larger place available?”

–Provided by Jian Weng

4) Tour towards Niagara Falls

“I think Niagara falls is the most interesting place I have ever been to since I come to the U.S. Both the nice service and the magnificent scenery impressed me a lot. So I think it’s very worth having a trip in Niagara falls. By the way, we should have used the sunscreen before we came there. Because the sunlight is so intensive. And I strongly recommend the cave of the wind, which I think it’s the most beautiful scenery there. “

–Provided by Di Chen

“I had been to Niagara Falls enjoying two scenic spots, one is the cave of wind, the other is Horseshoe Fall s. Cave of winds gives us a chance to enjoy Bridal Veil Falls, and Maid of Mist gives us a chance to glance at Horseshoe Falls. I stood under the Cave of winds, where cold water drop stroke me, defended the repulsion of wind and enjoyed the impact of falls. I took the ship, in which I viewed the huge amount of water wash rolling up the spindrift towards me. I was located at the bottom of falls felling the power of nature. Finally, I thought less people would visit the foreign scenic spots, but actually many visitors were waiting at the gate.”

–Provided by Yaoda Zhou

“It took a long time to Niagara Falls, and I got asleep on the bus. There’s some good foods for lunch. We walked in Cave-of-Winds. It’s really exciting that I was so close to the fall that I can even touch the water. After that, we enjoyed the Maid of the Mist. On the boat, I feel like that I was surrounded by the falls. As the limit of time and the cost of queueing, we came back directly and I didn’t have time to visit other part of the fall.”

–Provided by Haojun Ma

“It is really a perfect architecture designed by nature to combine both strength and beauty together when I approached to the bottom of Niagara Fall personally to look up to those silver flows fiercely running down. At the side which is constructed with wooden bridge for us to wander around, the shining water pearls rushed down to me bravely and turned into soft and cool rain falls to give a dreaming fantasy to my ears, to my eyes, and to my whole body. It was a pity that there wasn’t any rainbows here, otherwise I would recommend it as one of the most beautiful wanderlands I have ever reached. On the other side where we approached by ship, it again showed me its power. It was growling and pouring to me, as if it was a thunder storm came from fictions to hold my eyes and spirit. Among those kind of things, I saw a white bird flying away as a petrel which was an amazing shock for me, a fiction lover. Its beauty deserves my memory and lifetime to retrospect. But the fierce part of it, I am afraid that I can’t describe it as truely as I have experienced, not only for its power, but also because it indeed holds such kind of mysterious feelings.”

–Provided by Jianfei Gao

“The trip to Niagara Falls was really a fascinating experience. It was amazing to see the water falling from the cliff, and making huge splashes. When taking the boat to approach the Horseshoe falls, which were the largest part of the Niagara Falls, we could only hear the rumbles, and see the high wall of water. The pouring down of the fall even formed a constant rain hitting all visitors on the boat, and it was obvious that one would get soaked without a raincoat. However, there was still a little regret that we didn’t stand on the top of the falls to enjoy an even more splendid scenery.”

–Provided by Jiahui Lu

'’Niagara falls are one of the most famous natural wonders in the world. It locates at the border between US and Canada. It is definitely a place of interest worth visiting. After a very tiring journey in the early morning, we arrived at Niagara Falls in buffalo. We visited two scenic spots. One is the cave of wind and the other is the bottom of the fall. In the cave of wind, we had a chance to have a close look at the fall and got wet by the droplets. It is definitely the most thrilling part of the day to appreciate nature’s creations. Later on, we went downhill to take the tour boat. Burst water gushed forth. Everyone on the boat was too excited to say anything. Nothing is better than this experience. The awesome landscape are the masterpiece of the nature. Sometimes, soaking yourself into such beautiful scenes is absolutely the best way to relax.’’

–Provided by Junwen Bai

Lighting Talks

122- Robert Escriva- systems 203- Shrutarshi Basu- Programming languages, Programmable systems 310- Vlad Niculae- Machine Learning 405- Arzoo Katiyar- TBA 406- Matthew Milano- Databases/compliers 416- Molly Feldman- Educational Programming Languages and Usability